"A little house upon which I am proud to put my name", such is the way César Ritz described his hotel on the day of the inauguration. Today, the Ritz retains the atmosphere of a private home, bringing together French "art de vivre", alongside British comfort and cosiness. Coincidentally, only five years after the opening of the Ritz Paris, the term "palace" entered into the French language, evoking both the unique charm and the prestigious service of the now iconic hotel.
At the time of the construction of a second building facing the Cambon Street, a long corridor of 110 metres was built, linking the new building and the main edifice. César Ritz, in a stroke of genius, suggested to his wife who was saddened by its gloominess, that she decorates it with beautiful ornaments, in order to distract customers from its narrow darkness. Ever since, this glum passage has been transformed into the gallery of temptations, warm and refined space, showcase for luxurious items.
The story of the Ritz Paris is one of a prestigious edifice, the construction of which began in 1685 instigated by Louvois, finance minister of the Kingdom and Jules Hardouin-Mansart, Louis XIV's architect. The endeavour proving to be both long and costly, it was then decided to build only the facades, whilst preserving a sense of harmony, so dear to Mansart. This architectural work of art was finally honoured a few decades later, when a number of the facades were classified as listed buildings.
During the second world war, when the Ritz Paris was occupied by the Germans, the legendary cellar of the palace, resting place of rare cognacs and vintage wines such as Château d'Yquem, Château Lafite and Château Margaux, was under imminent threat. In an illuminated moment of creativity, Hans Elminger, then director of the hotel, pretended that the rare collection in fact belonged to Hermann Göring, thus saving the invaluable treasure.
Ernest Hemingway, passionate and faithful guest of the Ritz Paris, proved his bravery by "liberating", albeit symbolically, the palace. On 25th August 1944, he entered the building armed with a machine gun, followed by a group of resistants, determined to chase out the last remaining Germans. Although the story goes that that he then ordered a round of dry martinis, it testifies, above all, of the American author's fondness for the hotel, "his" Paris.
Charles Ritz, son of César Ritz, shared with Ernest Hemingway a passion for trout fishing. In 1956, the hotel Grill was therefore renamed with the evocative name "L'Espadon", meaning swordfish. The decision to serve refined seafood dishes, proved somewhat unpopular among the Directors of the hotel at the time. However, despite the initial reluctance of some, the idea was warmly welcomed, and the restaurant quickly filled with en vogue Parisian diners.
Recently renamed the Vendôme Bar, the British inspired Cocktail Lounge is the creation of Charles Ritz, proud successor of César and Marie Louise Ritz. Located at the entrance of the Place Vendôme, with a view on a calm, lush garden, this bar has a unique, enticing charm. It has now become an essential venue for haute couture shows, and also appeals to those enjoying refined aromas whilst savouring a classic Five O'Clock Tea.
By the end of the 1970's, the Ritz Paris had lost some of its original splendor. Despite the loyalty of its guests, its standards of comfort were no longer comparable to that of other palaces of the capital, and it was finally sold by the widow of Charles Ritz, Monique. The Al Fayed family purchased the hotel, falling in love with the prestigious venue. After nine years of major reconstruction work, the Ritz Paris has regained its initial grandeur, revamped by a modern touch, whilst preserving its characteristic charm.
Staying true to the iconic modern touch characterising the Ritz Paris, Mohamed Al Fayed, the President Frank J. Klein and several architects transformed the venue, by creating new spaces, and bringing it into a new era. The Ritz Club and the Ritz Health Club were born. The first is a trendy place to dine and meet friends, whist the second is a haven of peace, dedicated to the well being of guests.
The internationally renowned Escoffier School, initiates both seasoned gourmets and curious minds to the art of French gastronomy.
The Ritz Paris has become an iconic venue, synonymous of excellence and elegance. An international reference in the luxury hotel business, the Ritz is a privileged venue for great of this world. Praised by the most prestigious travel magazines, its exceptional range of services has also been awarded accolades such as " best hotel in the world"and "hotel of the century". The most demanding of guests are sure to be delighted by the Ritz Paris, and will be seduced by top of the range catering, meticulous service, and refined decoration.